Peru’s National Organization of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women, ONAMIAP, brought the case of mass sterilizations which occurred during the second term of former dictator Alberto Fujimori to the United Nations earlier this week.
Between 1995 to 2000, the right-wing leader oversaw forced sterilizations that affected over 270,000 women and 24,000 men, according to ONAMIAP.
ONAMIAP launched the initiative on the last day of the 16th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that took place in New York between April 24 to May 5.
Fujimori's administration implemented a health program that carried out the sterilization of almost 300,000 women. The program particularly affected poor Indigenous Quechua women living in rural areas who could not understand documents written in Spanish that they were forced to sign before the operation.
Thousands of women were sterilized, without consent, and were often pressured, coerced and even physically restrained by medical professionals. Others have told harrowing stories of how they entered medical clinics for check-ups and minor procedures but left sterilized.
Fujimori justified the program, known as Voluntary Surgical Contraception, on the premise that it would help to alleviate poverty — by literally preventing poor people from being born.
Fujimori has been in jail since 2007 on charges of corruption and human rights abuses.
Several state investigations into the sterilizations have been opened and closed, leaving victims without recourse. Much to the disappointment of victims and human rights organizations, a January 2014 ruling said that there was not enough evidence to maintain an investigation into Fujimori’s role in the sterilizations, which he still maintains were voluntary or undertaken by rogue doctors.
Courts also ruled that three of Fujimori's health ministers were not responsible for the sterilization program.